Every minute a child dies of a water-related disease
Women and children spend 200 million hours a day collecting water
1 in 9 people lack access to safe water
More people have a mobile phone than a toilet
For every $1 spent on water and sanitation there is a $4 economic return

Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children under five in the world. Around 1.5 million deaths each year - nearly one in five – are caused by diarrhea. It kills more children than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.1


Sanitation and proper hygiene are crucial to diarrhea prevention. It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities can result in an average reduction in cases of diarrhea of more than one-third. Washing hands with soap has been found to reduce diarrhea by more than 40%.1


Halving the proportion of those globally without access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation by 2015 is estimated to result in 272 million more school attendance days a year. The value of deaths averted, based on discounted future earnings, would amount to US$ 3.6 billion a year4


Only 63% of the world's population has access to improved sanitation - defined as a sanitation facility that ensures hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact. 2


Improved sanitation facilities are estimated to result in an average reduction in cases of diarrhea of more than 33%.1


2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation; 1.1 billion still practice open defecation.2


Of the 60 million people added to the world's towns and cities every year, most move to informal settlements (i.e. slums) with no sanitation facilities.3


Resource Links

Look for more facts in our collection of Water Resource Links.

References

  1. Estimated with data from Diarhhoea: Why children are still dying and what can be done. UNICEF, WHO 2009
  2. Estimated with data from WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2012). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water, 2012 Update.
  3. UN Water. (2008). Tackling a global crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008.
  4. World Health Organization (WHO). (2002). The World Health Report 2002, Reducing Risks, Promoting Health Life.
  5. World Health Organization (WHO). (2004). Evaluation of the Costs and Benefits of Water and Sanitation Improvements at the Global Level.
  6. World Health Organization (WHO). (2008). Safer Water, Better Health: Costs, benefits, and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health; Updated Table 1: WSH deaths by region, 2004.

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